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May 25th, 2018 – To grow or not to grow

Grounds for Science

 

with Rosalie Lawrence

Friday, May 25, 2018 at 6:30 PM at Scarlet City Espresso Bar

To Grow or not to grow: 

How cells balance growth in healthy bodies and how cancer tips the scale

Each cell in our body is constantly making decisions. One of those decisions is the choice of whether to grow and divide, a choice that depends on both the cell’s ability to sense the availability of nutrients in its immediate environment as well as the presence of long-range hormonal signals that help to coordinate the behavior of cells in the same tissue. All cells in our body contain the same genetic code, but interpret the code differently such that a skin cell, a blood cell, or a neuron may make different growth choices. Despite its apparent complexity, this process works remarkably well most of the time. However, mutations in the molecular players that carry out these decisions can result in cancer: the unrestricted growth of cells, often resulting in the formation of tumors in organs.
Rosalie will tell you about her research as a graduate student in the Zoncu lab, studying the master regulator of cell growth, the mTORC1 complex. We’ll discuss both the amazingly robust pathways that keep cell growth at optimal levels most of the time, as well as how those pathways can be misregulated and result in cancer.

Human cancer cells in culture - Image: Matthew Daniels

Rosalie Lawrence

Rosalie Lawrence

is a PhD student in the Roberto Zoncu lab at UC Berkeley, where she is fascinated by how cells make decisions. By studying live cells using microscopes as well as grinding cells up to do biochemistry experiments, she works to uncover new insights regarding how cellular decisions are made in space and time. Prior to her time at Berkeley, Rosalie performed vaccine development research at the University of Botswana and studied heat stress response in plants at Swarthmore College, her undergraduate institution. In her spare time, Rosalie can be found teaching chemistry with the Prison University Project at San Quentin or swimming, running, and biking along with the Cal Triathlon team.

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